Early diagnosis of skin cancer is critical to successfully treating the disease. If you discover a suspicious skin change, it’s important to see your provider right away.
The diagnosis of skin cancer often starts with a complete medical and family history, along with a thorough skin examination. Your healthcare provider may ask questions about risk factors and symptoms, about when the change on the skin first occurred, and if it has altered in size or appearance. Your provider may also ask about past exposures to known causes of skin cancer, such as sunburns and tanning beds, and if anyone in your family has had skin cancer.
Based on the skin exam, a skin biopsy may be recommended. If a provider suspects that cancer has spread beyond the skin, a lymph node biopsy may also be ordered.
If you are diagnosed with skin cancer, your risk of developing more skin cancers in the future is higher. Regular follow-up for skin cancer patients is very important to catch cancers early. Your frequency of skin exams should be determined by your dermatologist, but at a minimum should be annual.